RAMADAN and PULSE: A Queer Muslim’s Reflection
1. A rhythmical throbbing of the arteries as blood is propelled through them, typically as felt in the wrists or neck.
June 12, 2016. I turn my television on to find all news channels covering a tragedy in my childhood hometown. Orlando, FL. Pulse. 49 dead. 53 injured. My heart throbs, pumping blood through my body, blood vessels pounding close to my skin’s surface. I pause, and subsequently scroll Facebook to reach out to friends and family in Orlando. And then I get angry.
Pulsing. I hear my heart expand and contract as clearly as I hear the endless news coverage. I see my veins carrying stress-filled blood through my body as visibly as I see my Muslim siblings failing to acknowledge that what happened was in a space that celebrates queer love. As noticeably as I see my non-Muslim family failing to understand the multiple levels of trauma settling into the bodies of queer people of color, including queer Muslims of color.
Thump. Thump. Thump. I begin to type a Facebook post in synchronicity with my heart beating. With every thump, words—angry, confused, frustrated words—spill out, to eventually form a coherent message:
“Friends. It's important to mention that what happened in #Orlando last night was at a gay bar. SUPER important. Because my community, my LGBTQ+ siblings, were murdered and hurt for living out their truth. Because everyday, people harass and harm LGBTQ+ people for being who they are. Because LGBTQ+ discrimination still exists, despite what you may think (read: marriage equality hasn't fixed everything).
It's also important to mention that despite being gay, I'm a Muslim. A PROUD Muslim, a Muslim that has been loved and accepted by my Muslim siblings. A Muslim that prays with my family at my place of worship when I go home to Orlando. And that my faith does not call for harming ANYONE.
Rumi once said "Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” Reach out to your LGBTQ+ siblings. Learn about the true meaning of Islam. Give a hug. Listen. Be a true ally.”
2. A single vibration or short burst of sound, electric current, light, or other wave.
With the anniversary of the Pulse massacre coming up in just a couple of days during the month of Ramadan, these words are even more important today.
Every dawn and dusk, a wave of Muslims throughout the world kiss their heads to the ground to honor their fast. To pay homage to a faith that teaches compassion, kindness, and love. To remember that extending a hand in community is one of the most important things one can do to overcome tragedy.
And most importantly, to be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder. Thus, my wish for this Ramadan to my Muslim siblings and myself if this: that we continue to build community that is different from us. To love and welcome our Queer siblings into the Ummah. To break bread with individuals who grieve for those they have lost to violence and tragedy.
3. A musical beat or other regular rhythm.
And finally, to remember and honor those who were dancing in celebration of beautiful queer love the night of the Pulse massacre through our divine expressions of love.
As-salāmu ʿalaykum. May peace be upon you.
Fahim Gulamali's reflection comes to the Parliament of the World's Religions as part of the 2017 Interfaith Ramadan series, empowering interfaith allies, Muslim and those of other spiritual and religious backgrounds from around the world, to share their stories of service, community and gratitude during the month of Ramadan. Please contact the Parliament at [email protected], or tag us at #RamadanPoWR to share your own story.